Springfield Symphony to honor African-American History Month

Springfield Symphony Orchestra
Todd Payne


Date: February 5, 2018
For Immediate Release
Photos Available Upon Request

Contact: Jeana Varney
Phone: 417.864.6683
Cell: 417.349.0906
411 N. Sherman Parkway
Springfield, MO 65802

Springfield Symphony to honor African-American History Month

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – In honor of African-American History month, the Springfield Symphony is excited to welcome Baritone Richard Todd Payne back to the stage to sing spirituals and present his very moving interpretation of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s I Have a Dream speech at its African-American Heritage classical concert on Saturday, February 17, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. at the Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts.

“February is a time when we honor the achievements and lives of African-Americans, so we thought it would be great to do a concert that features music by African-American composers or music written specifically for African-American performers,” said Kyle Wiley Pickett, music director/conductor for the Springfield Symphony. “It’s music that’s jazzy, fun, and a lot of it is very recognizable (like “Summertime” and “I Got Plenty of Nuttin'”). We will feature music from the opera Porgy and Bess, which was one of the first pieces of theatre written specifically to feature black performers in the leading roles, and music from William Grant Still’s Afro-American Symphony, which was the first symphony written by an African-American to be performed by major orchestras in the United States. These are both really delightful, spirited, quintessentially American pieces, and I know our audiences will enjoy hearing them.”

Pickett will deliver a pre-concert talk from the stage at 6:30 p.m. and pre-concert music will begin at 7 p.m. Tickets are currently on sale at the Juanita K. Hammons Hall box office, and can be purchased by calling (417) 836-7678 or online at www.missouristatetix.com. Ticket prices range from $17 – $33 and discounts are available for students and seniors.

“I am also very excited to be working again with the terrific singer Richard Todd Payne, who last performed in our Beethoven 5 concert. He will sing several old American songs, including “Ol’ Man River,” which I know will just bring the house down, and anthems from the Civil Rights movement like “We Shall Overcome,” and “Precious Lord.” It will be a moving, thrilling, rambunctious, and fascinating concert with music that will get your toes tapping along with the great jazz rhythms of Gershwin and Still.”

Join Pickett at a free monthly event, Behind the Baton, at Ocean Zen on Thursday, February 15 (4117 S National Ave) for the opportunity to meet guest artist Richard Todd Payne and to hear Pickett talk about the music that will be performed at the February 17 concert. The meet & greet begins at 5:00 p.m. and the program will begin at 5:30 p.m.

Pickett is available for any interviews or questions. Please feel free to email him at kwpickett@gmail.com or call at (417) 837-9422. The concert is being sponsored by Mediacom, KSMU Ozarks Public Radio, and the Springfield News-Leader.

The Springfield Symphony Orchestra is a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation and an Equal Opportunity Employer. Additional funding for all Springfield Symphony Orchestra programming is provided by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency. For more information, visit www.springfieldmosymphony.org or www.facebook.com/springfieldsymphony.